The conversations of life

The key to surviving a heart attack for women? A female doctor


Here’s an interesting stat for you. A major US study has found women admitted to the ER for a heart attack had a significantly higher rate of survival if another woman oversaw their treatment.

Your chances also go up if you’re treated by a male doctor with a lot of female colleagues, according to the research which looked at emergency department admissions for over 580,000 heart attack patients and their outcomes over nearly 20 years.

Overall, 11.9% of heart attack patients died while in hospital, but women treated by male doctors were about 1.5 per cent less likely to survive than male patients in the care of female doctors.

Why the gap?

When gender is a matter of life and death

The researchers say while women with heart attacks do have symptoms, these aren’t always the same as men. Some of the more unusual signs include shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

Women also often have heart attacks at an older age, which increases the risk of their severity, and may also delay in going to hospital because their symptoms aren’t the classic chest pain.

Previous studies have already shown men and women often receive different care if they have a heart attack – and women are more likely to be misdiagnosed.

So, should you hang out for a doctor of the same sex in the ER?

The team says no – more important is knowing that chest pain is not the only sign of a heart attack and getting yourself to hospital fast.

Good advice.

You can read up more about heart attack signs here.

With a background in nursing, Annie has spent over 20 years working in the health industry, including the coordination of medical support for international TV productions and major stadium events, plus education campaigns with a number of national health organisations. In recent years, she has also taken time out of the workforce to be a full-time carer, giving her first-hand experience of the challenges and rewards of this role.

Leave A Reply